Sunday, 29 May 2011

Its A Magical Time - It's Appleby Fair

I'm excited.

It's that time of year again.

The roads are full of gypsy caravans on their way to Appleby Fair. It is a fascinating time, the annual gathering of gypsies and travellers. You drive round a corner and on one side of the road there is a rag tag collection of vehicles and caravans. On the other there are tethered horses; piebald and skewbald cobs. There is a plume of smoke wafting skywards from the recently lit camp fire.

It is life in the slow lane. The old ways still holding their own against the new. But it is fraught with danger. Over the crest of the hill flies a 4WD car in a hurry. At the last minute the driver sees the slow moving caravans. He doesn't have time to jam on his brakes. He overtakes. Only to see there is a bus coming the other way.

It is me.

I hit the brakes and the car pulls back onto the right side of the road. Having seen the gypsy caravans earlier, I had cut my speed, expecting something like this to happen on one corner or another. It always does. Every year.

I can't wait for next week. It is one of Britain's finest sights. The horses being trotted at full pelt up and down the road at Fair Hill, the washing of the horses in the River Eden often ridden bareback by children and the field full of caravans, fortune tellers and stallholders selling everything but the kitchen sink is pure magic.

Long may it go on.

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